Oakland to DC: Strike up the Bella Band!

Oakland to DC:  Strike up the Bella Band!
One of the best scored circuses in America. Scroll down to see the full story.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Save ONE CENTS on Big Top Typewriter! ...

Hurray!  Hurray!  Amazon dropped the list price down from $17.95 to $17.94! .... 

Causing a run on sales ....

Catapulting Big Top Typewriter back to  #1 on Amazon's Hot New Releases in Circus Performing Arts!

Buy now!  Sale may end at any time!

Price could rise any time soon! ...

The world may end any time soon! ...

Dare you live the "complete life" without your own big top typewriter?

Friday, April 14, 2017

Celebrate World Circus Day! - $10 Opening Day Tickets to Big Top Typewriter! ...

(The sale has ended)

4/20: ... LATE ...  BREAKING ... FROM ... ABROAD! ...

Blasting through with colossal kudos
from Blasting News: 


 "Compelling ... 
Behind the scenes look at the workings of the circus industry and the author’s encounters with its stars and showmen ...  
A thrilling roller coaster ride through his career as a writer. I was cheering him on all the way through this breezy page-turner of a book."

STILL # 1 on Amazon in Hot New Circus Titles!


Step right up to Showbiz David's new tendentiously tickling tanbark triumph, Big Top Typewriter!

"Eye-opening! ... Amusing! ... Anything but your staid story of  circus, " says the Midwest Book Review!  
 
"Here's a book with glue on the cover...
I couldn't put it down!"
- Douglas McPherson, Circus Mania

Go beyond the banner lines with your very own copy of Big Top Typewriter! (sorry, peanuts not included)

Monday, April 10, 2017

"Highly Recommended" -- Advance Critical Acclaim for Big Top Typewriter from Midwest Book Review Promises Readers Something Very Different ...

#1 on Amazon: Hot New Releases in Circus Performing Arts

 "Amusing ... Eye-opening ... A rare coverage that stands out even from the plethora of big top histories and performer biographies. Big Top Typewriter is anything but your staid story of circus animals and performers ... Highly recommended for readers who like circus exposés, and aspiring writers who struggle to find, project, and publish their own unique voices and styles.” 
 –- Diane Donovan, Senior Reviewer, Midwest Book Review


We're riding a big top high over this first review of my new book, due out on Amazon by World Circus Day this Saturday, April 15.  

The full in-depth write up will appear in the May issue of Midwest Book Review.

Photos of La Norma.  She's the star of the cover.  Among many photos I referred to book designer Brian Pearce for his consideration -- as well as linking him to Tim Tegge's archives -- to my delight one of Brian's  selections was La Norma, and best of all,  he placed her in what I think of as the center ring ring spot.  And he spent some time making a rather grainy image less grainy.

Another welcome surprise, and I had nothing whatsoever to do with this, the three photos Brian selected represent the three staples of circus: Animals, acrobatic daredevils, and clowns.  I love the parade of showgirls and elephants!

Sunday, April 09, 2017

A Pig Goes to the Circus, and the Circus Comes Home

  Elmo Gibb and his Teeny Weeny Circus -- no pigs yet, but there's a mind-reading pony.

Full disclosure:  Nothing at a circus delights me so much as a very unusual animal entering  the ring, even if it only does, well, almost anything   All it need do is something unexpected, and I’m a happy fan.  Yes, a bag of popcorn please!

Perhaps the sheer elation, the humor and joy of it all reconnects me to how the circus can delight children.  How it, I suppose, delighted me in my boyhood.

It’s a reason why I love the more bohemian animal acts of Jenny Vidbel, who’s been a regular of late on the Big Apple Circus.   A while back, she had, did she not, a rodent and a performing skunk?  Critters off the beaten big top path.  And she had them snapping to and fro on cue.  Now, that’s entertainment!

When my friend Boyi Yuan, who went to Ringling’s Out of This World with his girlfriend, told me about the experience, I asked him what he thought of the show.  He twisted his face in frustrated  ambivalence.   “I wish there wasn’t so much stuff going on,” he said, stating his preference for watching the acts in a less overdone format.   He thinks the show might please the children more than the adults

And then his face brightened fully. “I loved the animals!” 

I told him how much I agreed, how they had, for me, made the show, too. 

“The pig!” he said.

Around a pig Boyi and I could rally a shared joy.  We talked about how it reached the top of the slide and stood there for a moment, looking down in hesitation, and then on all fours, and ever so cautiously, made the slide all the way down.

Boyi, raised on a farm in China around barnyard critters,  wondered, in a kind of awe,  how it could have been taught to perform as a it did.

So did I. 

Up there at the top is a photo found and linked my way by Don Covington, of the Teeny Winny Circus, whose mover and shaker, clown Elmo Gibb, presents it at fairs.  It reminded me of the old John Strong circus when it played county fairs under a tiny little top, when John greeted the audience as an ambassador of great and looming gratitude. “Oh, look who I see in the crowd!  Well, how are you!  Hey, there’s Art!” 


When he coached a gaggle of home grown mutts through their boisterous basics.

When he touted big moments in his humble ring.  “Got a good hand, Muster the Clown!”

When he even once had a little elephant, Nina, in his mighty little lineup.

Boyi and I fell into accord over how the animals at Ringling made the show.

In my opinion, they rescued  a shaky space voyage. When all else fails, bring in the dogs.  Even better, give us a pig fit for the greatest show on earth!

originally posed September 14, 2016

Friday, April 07, 2017

Across My Big Top Typewriter Rolls a Spangled Parade of Star Troupers ...


Fond recollections of  some of the many circus people I have been lucky to meet across the seasons, most of them making appearances or cameos in my new book, due out on World Circus Day.

* Barbette: His eccentric attire and manner while directing  production for Polack Bros. Circus, opened my very young eyes to the strange bohemian ways  of the big top and its people   How I would live to regret never having sought an interview with Barbette. 

*  Sid Kellner, who hired me to work the James Bros Circus advance as press agent..  He could be charismatic and warm, and, on one shocking occasion, something quite different.   I ended up with an affection for my one big top boss, and with  haunting regrets over the great potential that Sid, in my view too addicted to the phone rooms,  never quite realized.     

* Henry Ringling North, when finally I was admitted  through at New York’s Yale club, having been stopped at the sign-in desk for lack of proper attire (they found a make-do tie to frame my mug in), once I reached Mr. North many floors above,  he bore a certain air of impatience, as if I had failed to dress for the king of England. A good interview followed.

* John Strong, sitting in the front row while I, all tangled up in my notes, gave a shaky address at the Circus Fans Convention in Scottsdale, Arizona.  The awe on Big John's face as he looked up at me was so much like my own, when many years before, sitting under John's  tiny tent at the county fair, I was charmed by  his fo;ksy ringmaster style.  John gave me my first interview, and I landed a big profile of him in The White Tops.   How could you not love Big John?  Those days of youth were the best days.

* His thundering knock on my motel room door in Sarasota, a half hour earlier than I had expected him to arrive.  When I opened it, there he stood: “Hell, David, I haven’t got time to waste. Let’s get this over with!”  It was Noyelles Burkart, a former Ringling legal adjuster (fixer) who had moved the show off the lot on Minneapolis in 1955, after the crew suddenly went on strike, leaving a tent full of disoriented spectators in stark limbo.  He, no fan of John Ringling North, spoke of his darker side, but would not let me quote him in Big Top Boss.


I had great luck with circus man Merle Evans, who gave me one of my best interviews, and publicist F. Beverly Kelly, who penned a foreword for my book Behind the Big Top

* Miguel Vazquez, quad prince of the flying trapezes. Since he had caught his first quad on my birthday, I had a particular feeling for this incredibly gifted artist: Before a special screening of Phil Weyland’s film, The Last Great Circus Flyer, Weyland had arranged for my trek up the stairs to the highest reach in the balcony.  Into a small reception room I entered.  And there sat the famous flyer,  rising to his feet to offer me an elevating hug.

* May Wirth, then in a Sarasota convalescent home, speaking to me while I tape recorder took it all down of her love for her horse Joe, and of John Ringling, whenever he was on the lot, demanding a complete act, no matter the weather, come hell or high water.  She liked Charles  Ringling a lot more.

* John Ringling North, somewhere in the luxury condo on the Sarasota Keys, the afternoon I had arrived to meet and interview him, thanks to his brother Henry have secured the arrangements. But where was he, I wondered, and when would he appear?  While speaking with Henry, who was in the kitchen behind an open bar, I happened to glance back in the other direction, and there stood the man who had thought up the ballet for elephants -- as if he had alighted from another sphere, smack dabble in the middle of the spacious living room, smiling brightly, his eyes twinkling, as if having entranced me with what felt like a magical entrance.  Scripted?  The Wizard of Circus.

* Alexi Sonin, director of the circus in St. Petersburg bursting into my box during intermission, having been told of my high regard for the show bringing me back to see it a second time.  Now, he was coming to introduce himself to me! With Sonin came a humorous young prop hand to supply rudimentary translation, and through a few words and overly active body language, what a time we had.  The great director directed the two of us into some dramatic posturing while a camera snapped away.

Alexi Sonin,  right, and museum director Alexander Levin, center, during my 1979 visit to the circus in Leningrad.  

* Barbara Byrd, recalling while we spoke by phone of how her dad, Dory, loved sitting under the big top and watching his show, day after day,  whether there were "200 people in the seats, or two thousand people in the seats."

* Irvin Feld: My one brief and accidental sighting of the indomitable showman at the DC Armory in 1972, during the great circus war between Ringling-Barnum and Circus America,.  Brief, and yet  how vivid did his personality come across.  Can you image this Irvin ever retiring his beloved circus from the road?   

* So many others, too, were I lucky to meet or observe in action, close up. Among them: Merle Evans,  Art Concello, Jane Johnson,  Cliff Vargas, Johnny Pugh, La Norma, Louis Stern, Paul Binder, Richard Barstow, Pete and Norma Cristiani, Kenny Dodd, costume designer Miles White, himself full of juicy tales he later recanted on.